May 29, 2007
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1: The Long Way Home, part 1" by Joss Whedon
Were you a fan of the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer? If so, there is a new comic series you must check out! Joss Whedon is writing Buffy, season 8, as a follow up to to the series. The comic picks up where the show left off, with legions of Slayers all over the world. Buffy is heading up what seems to be a special ops unit, Xander has taken his "Scooby gang" role to a more official level (and looks rather rakish with his eye patch), and the rest of the gang make appearances as well. The issues only come out once a month, so it's not quite as satisfying as weekly tv installments, but this new format looks to be a fun and creative way to keep the Buffy series alive.
Amanda, outreach and instruction
February 26, 2007
"Strange Candy" by Laurell K. Hamilton
Laurell K. Hamilton has a new book out that is a collection of short stories, each introduced by the author. For fans of her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, the book is begun and ended with stories about Anita, another couple are set in the same world as her book Nightseer. All of the stories fall into the fantasy/paranormal sort of genre. Strange Candy contains 14 short stories and Hamilton does a nice job of mixing them up so that a heavy story will be followed by a lighter one. Subjects include everything from housecleaning superheros to elves and demons. This is a fast read - I read it in less than a day - but is nice break from normal life.
January 24, 2007
The Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts
Since in earlier entries on the UGLi book blog I had seen positive reviews of Nora Robert’s novels, I decided to try one of her trilogies. I enjoyed “The Circle Trilogy” which consists of “Morrigan’s Cross,” “Dance of the Gods,” and “Valley of Silence.” The story starts in Ireland, nearly 1000 years ago, when the goddess Morrigan tells sorcerer Hoyt to bring together a circle of six – a sorcerer, a witch, a warrior, a scholar, a shape shifter, and a lost soul – to prepare for an epic battle of good against evil to save humankind. Thanks to time portals, magic, and the help of the gods, the story moves to modern day New York and Ireland to pick up the rest of the “circle.” The story finishes up in the ancient Celtic world of Geall where the six and an army of Geallians fight Lilith and her army of vampires, demons, and a sorcerer who specializes in black magic. The plot is pretty much as expected: the members derive strength and power from the friendship and love that develops as they train and bond, the six divide into three couples (so each volume has a love story), and there are smaller battles and setbacks along the way to the big battle in the end. This trilogy is good, escapist fare.
Morrigan’s Cross: ISBN: 0-515-14165-8
Dance of the Gods: ISBN: 0-515-14166-6
Valley of Silence: ISBN: 0-515-14167-4
November 20, 2006
"Vamped" by David Sosnowski
“Vamped” by David Sosnowski is not your typical vampire novel. Marty Kowalski was mortally wounded fighting in Europe in World War II. Just before dying, a female vampire turns him into a vampire. It is now many years later. Marty is over 100 years old and a bored bachelor. It is a time in which vampires are the majority, due in large part to efforts of Marty and his benevolent vampire movement which turned humans into vampires on a large scale. Now the only mortals left are farm raised for the amusement and sport hunting by the rich who want access to fresh blood, instead of the bottled variety everyone else drinks.
As the story opens, Marty is bored and depressed. Then he runs across Isuzu Trooper Cassidy, a five year old girl, orphaned that evening when vampires killed her mother. Isuzu and her mom had escaped the farm and been living in a hole, coming above ground to forage during the bright light of day. Initially Marty plans to drain Isuzu dry, but decides to wait until she is less frightened (apparently adrenaline affects the taste of blood). So Marty takes Isuzu home. As time passes, their relationship morphs from diner/dessert to owner/pet to father/daughter. Over the course of the book Marty raises Isuzu and regains much of his lost humanity and joy in life as he grows to love and protect his “little SUV.”
Though not great literature, this amusing book is an enjoyable read. It is less the story of the hunted and hunters than a novel about a man regaining his soul and purpose in life through the love of a child.
October 02, 2006
"Undead and Unpopular" by Mary Janice Davidson
MJ Davidson's "Undead and ..." series is a nice, light read. After all, how can a newly minted vampire queen named Elizabeth Taylor - Betsy to her friends- with a shoe fetish be anything less than entertaining. This book, the 5th in the series, is readable in and unto itself but I recommend starting at the beginning of the series and taking it sequentially so that you'll get all the humor.
Betsy is turning 31, or she would be if she were still alive, and she's trying to plan her own surprise birthday party, give up drinking blood (because it's "icky"), and organize her upcoming wedding to her consort, the "yummy" Eric Sinclair. A delegation of European vampires arrive on the scene at about the same time that Betsy figures out that her best friend is seriously ill. Throw in a zombie in the attic and a local vamp who is hell-bent on killing the member of the European contingent who first turned her, and a lot of fun, chaos and confusion ensue.
As a stand-alone, this entry in the series isn't as action-packed as some of the previous novels. Instead it focuses more on relationships among the central group of characters. Unfortunately, deep, meaningful character development would go against the general grain of Anderson's humorous storytelling style and break up the feel of the series. Anderson does a great job of sticking with her strengths and keeping up snappy dialog, but the result is that not much happens. In short, it's not the strongest of the set, but still well worth reading.
September 08, 2006
"Definitely Dead" by Charlain Harris
Harris' 6th book in this series featuring Sookie Stackhouse, barmaid extraordinaire, is just as satisfying as its predecessors. If you've never read any of this series, I would highly recommend starting at the beginning with "Dead Until Dark." You can read this book as a stand-alone and still find it a good read, but the story is much richer and more amusing if you have all of the background from the previous books.
In this "episode" Sookie, a telepath, gets involved in a plot to throw over the vampire queen of Louisiana, starts dating the were-tiger Quinn, and manages to navigate kidnap plots, murder attempts and fancy dress balls with her usual mixture of down-home common sense, humor and style.
This series is a great read. It's definitely not your usual vampire novel; more a mix of mystery, romance and comedy that keeps you turning the pages. It's a great change of pace from academic or business reading - just plain fun.